# writing rhythm/note length in notation

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Jherrera, May 8, 2005.

1. ### JherreraGuest

Sep 25, 2004
Often when I'm write a line I can tell its in 4/4 or 6/8 or whatever but when I get to writing it down on manuscript paper i cant tell hoiw long each note it, i have trouble counting especially when it's a dotted quarter note or some other strange bulljazz going on. Anybody know of any tricks to help me figure out each notes symbol. I wish there was software that would lsiten to it and transcribe it and is free. Seems like any software you need is \$999.99 so NO ONE can get it.

2. ### JimK

Dec 12, 1999
C'mon. The whole thing about transcribing is 'the process' AND your effort(blood, sweat, & tears).

My suggestion is to break it down Beat by Beat.
I try to think in 1/16th note subdivisions(1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a, etc).
Example: A busy figure may be l-e&_2e-a3e&-4e_-l
Try to "Hear it"...then "Count it". Slow it down mentally(or with a machine).

Suppose you hear two(2) notes on Beat 1.
Are they even in length...like two 1/8th notes?(1e&a = 1_&_)
Is the 1st one longer...maybe indicating a dotted 1/8th note? (1e&a = 1__a)

Is the 1st note 'quick with a 'longer' 2nd note? (1e&a = 1e__)

Some 1/16th note combinations which are used-
1e&a
1_&a (NOT a Triplet)
1e&_ (NOT a Triplet)
1e_a

These are 'basic' rhythmic figures which occur a lot.
If you're trying a somewhat busy, staccato line...sure, the notes may be 'choked'(you may use many 1/16th notes + 1/16th note RESTS...then again, you can simply indicate the line is being played 'Staccato'. A "." is placed under each note that is played staccato).
A simple method to depict 'swung' notes is to use 1/8th notes and indicate thay are to be played in a Swing style.

Hopefully, someone else will chime in with triplets & rests.
Gotta go!

3. ### JherreraGuest

Sep 25, 2004
I'm new to this whole notation thing, teaching myself theory in away with whatever I can get. Seeing as my favorite composer is Frank Zappa, I have a lot of work to do. Thank you very much it was quite helpful and I'm now one step closer to wrting stuff on paper that sounds cool when played.

4. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
Not technique related. Moved to General Instruction.

5. ### JimK

Dec 12, 1999
On second thought...plunk down the grand for the software.

6. ### Bassist4Life

Dec 17, 2004
Buffalo, NY
Jherrera,
Transcribing/notating tunes is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice. Of course, it does come easier for some people, but that's life. Playing by ear is one skill and notating is another skill. A lot of people are able to play by ear, but not everyone can notate what they hear. The notation end of things takes a strong background in music theory and music reading. I would take a college/community music theory course if you don't have a strong background in these areas. Learning theory and notation through a private instructor could cost you a small fortune. IMO, software shouldn't be used to do transcriptions. Even if I had software that cost 1 million dollars, I would question its accuracy when all was said and done. People get paid BIG BUCKS to transcribe music. I believe that way back in the day, Steve Vai transcribed Frank Zappa's music and made good money. Good luck on your transcriptions. Stick with it and don't give up.

Joe

PS. IMO, headphones makes transcribing easier.

Mar 9, 2005
New York, NY